Sharing Parenting Responsibilities with Your Partner

Hey Mom!

If you don't explain to your partner that you need a break from parenting, that you are very tired at the end of the day, that parenting is hard work, how is he supposed to know? Speak up!

Mothers know best. It just seems right that you know when the baby should play, and sleep, and eat. You know what's "too rough" and what's "too loud." It's an inborn sixth sense that you're given to help raise your children. But this "fact" gets many new mothers in trouble with their husbands. The new dad in your house probably already feels like a third wheel. Everyone coos over you and the baby. Everyone asks how you and the baby are doing. Life now revolves around you and the baby, and every time he tries to join the inner circle, your protective instinct might push him out.

Think about it. Have you said anything in the past day that sounds something like "Lower your voice, you'll wake the baby." "Hold her head when you pick her up." "Don't be so rough with him." "That's not how you do it." If you have, you might need to practice the skill of sharing.

Your partner's parenting skills might be different from yours, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong. If you want him to be an involved, caring dad, give him a chance to learn how to parent. Hold your breath and leave him alone when you're tempted to step in and whisk the baby away from him. Limit the number of times you tell him he's wrong each day. Make sure that he and the baby have time alone every day (and not just when she's sleeping). If he's taking a back seat, encourage him to be more involved. Ask him to feed the baby or take him for a walk. Praise his attempts. And be willing to admit your own uncertainty.

New moms and dads both experience feelings of inadequacy, anger, confusion, uncertainty, guilt, and worry. If this is your first baby, you are both learning the ropes together. If you make an effort to share your baby, you will have each other to fall back on and look to for reinforcement. This dynamic will come in handy down the road as you raise your child together.

Sharing Responsibility

Sharing the coos and smiles of a new baby is the fun part. But sharing the diapering, feeding, and caring is something else. It's not uncommon for a new mother to resent what looks like an unequal distribution of family responsibilities. While you're at home dealing with an endless cycle of crying, feeding, diapering, and washing, the baby's other parent walks out the door each morning to "freedom" in the world of adult conversations, "important" interactions, and financial rewards. You might find yourself seething with anger when he returns home with a cheery, "So how was your day?"

Before you get yourself into this corner, talk to your spouse about family responsibilities. He's busy all day; you're busy all day. So how will you divide the baby responsibilities when you're both at home? Talk, talk, talk. Make time every day to talk about your feelings and his, too. Explain your needs and create a plan that makes both of you happy. This habit of open communication will serve you well if you plan to return to work eventually. If you don't speak up now and create a system that balances the load, you'll find yourself walking in the door, after a hard day at work, only to find a hungry baby, a pile of laundry on the washing machine, a load of groceries in the car, and a husband contentedly watching TV. Speak up now; talk to each other about how you can both take responsibility for caring for a child who belongs equally to both of you.

excerpted from:

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's website or call 1-800-253-6476.

Pregnancy Day by Day

Tell us your due date to receive our daily newsletter and find out what is happening in this day of your pregnancy!

Already a member? Log-in here

Name of the Day

Quick Polls

Q: When did you first feel your baby move?

Before 16 weeks

Between 16-19 weeks

After 19 weeks

View Results


Create Your Baby Registry with Target
Do you have everything you need to care for your new bundle of joy? Create your Target baby registry today!

Zika Virus Q&A: 4 Facts for Pregnant Women & Families
Zika virus is pretty scary, especially if you're pregnant or trying to conceive. Learn what steps to take to protect yourself from Zika virus, including travel restrictions and mosquito bite prevention.

Where Should Newborns Sleep? Comparing Bassinets, Cradles & More
Where will your bundle of joy sleep when she comes home? Get shopping and safety tips for choosing a bassinet, play yard, or other crib alternative that will fit in your bedroom, per AAP guidelines.

Top 100 Baby Names of 2016
Want to see which baby girl names and boy names are hot in the U.S. right now? Check out these lists from the S.S.A., and click on the names to see their meanings!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

© 2000-2016  Sandbox Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.